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Researching Cycling Training Methods

Old 10-02-23, 06:42 PM
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Researching Cycling Training Methods

Hey everyone! I'm Damian, a recent Computer Science grad. I know that I'm not the intended age group for this subforum, but I'm looking for diverse responses from all age demographics. I'm delving into researching my passion, cycling.

Online coaching can be pricey, $200+/mo. I want to figure out how you approach training and improving your cycling strength in this landscape.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you'd like to share, please message me directly or comment below. Thanks!
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Old 10-03-23, 03:17 AM
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I currently use an AI coaching App (PILLAR) and I have also used Wahoo SYSTM and Training Peaks for my structured training plans. I find these more cost effective than hiring a personal coach
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Old 10-03-23, 09:22 AM
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I'm going to respond in a way you probably don't expect. There are a number of us here in our mid-80s, and I'll reply only for myself and my wife. I'll be 84 in November and she'll be 86.
As we gain even more senior status, priorities and activities change. For example, my wife, who rode until she was 85, has developed an unpredictable weakness in her knees, which causes her to collapse on the floor at unknown times. Being as I am the only other household member, it is important that I be available to assist. This has totally changed both of our cycling habits, with my bicycling now being close to home and the neighborhood, and hers stopping completely.
However we have both been protagonists of all around fitness. This mean that I bicycle, but in addition we swim and walk, and I do a lot of stretching and resistance exercises, in addition to trying to follow a decent diet and maintaining other health signs such as weight, blood pressure, etc. So this is our training regimen, in an effort to maintain our fitness as we approach later years in our life. Also, medical consultations and visit become increasingly frequent and necessary, sometimes using a whole day for one visit, and having one or two visits a week.
​​​​​​ I know this is not what you expected, but my training has changed markedly as a result of the factors associated with aging and family responsibilities. Good luck with your survey.

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Old 10-03-23, 11:04 AM
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I'm 65 and have been an avid cyclist for 22 years. Sometimes competitively, often recreationally.

I have never followed a structured training plan. If I'm not satisfied with my performance in a certain area, I do more of that thing until I'm satisfied with the result.

Years ago, when I was getting beaten on climbs, I simply doubled my weekly climbing. Within several weeks, I was climbing well enough to be first on the climbs. When I was getting beaten on sprints, I started sprinting up every roller I encountered. Soon, I was contesting the sprints--and sometimes winning. When I couldn't hang onto fast pace lines, I spent a lot of time riding solo at a fast pace. Eventually, I could hang on in a fast pace line and take a decent pull.

One of the current training fads appears to be HIIT, but I'm not an advocate. I tried structured intervals, but I didn't enjoy doing them. Too regimented, and really tedious. The most interval-like thing I do is hill repeats, or simply multiple hill climbs on a route. My climbing pace is usually high zone 3, low zone 4 (fast tempo, what some would call "sweet spot" training).

Another of the training fads is "polarization", or put simply: "ride easy sometimes, ride hard other times". I guess I do that, but not in a structured way. On a given day, if I'm feeling strong, I'll ride hard. If I'm feeling tired, I'll dial back the effort. I think this whole "X% of your rides should be done in zone 2" is a bunch of hooey. If you're in tune to you body, it will tell you what level of effort is good on a given day.

To summarize, my training strategy is:
  • ride a lot
  • work on the things you are not satisfied with
  • ride easy when you are feeling tired
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Old 10-03-23, 01:44 PM
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If you aren't competing in races then do you really need a training program or coach? I'd think the subscription training programs are more geared to those that compete or extremely serious about being the absolute best they can be.

I just read some books, websites and such. Anything by Joe Friel I liked. But I haven't spent money on training. Other than what I need to ride my bike and record my metrics/stats. Quantity of riding with awareness and purpose on your part will get you as good a result as a training site that needs a good chunk of your money every month. IMO

So just ask yourself and identify what it is you are wanting from such places. And can you wait a extra season or two to achieve those goals on your own?


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Old 10-03-23, 02:10 PM
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I'm a lot like terrymorse, though I do plan ahead. The first thing I did when I took up road cycling at 50 was to work at riding up hills. Cycling is all about hills, though that seems stupid to those who don't ride. Hills make you strong. The second thing I did was to simply ride away from home until I was tired, then ride back. I learned a lot doing that. Road cycling is also all about endurance. The third thing I did after I could ride 100 mostly flat miles solo was to start doing organized group rides with experienced cyclists. I got my butt whupped of course but I kept at it and after a couple years was able to keep up.

I bought The Cyclist's Training Bible right to start with. It gives one a good overview w/r to training but I couldn't manage to create my own training plans from it, so I didn't, just rode lots. Once I had devices which could upload data, I subscribed to TrainingPeaks (software) and use that every day. TrainingPeaks has lots of good training plans and good online coverage of training topics.

Instrumentation: I bought a simple HR monitor to start with, but now I'd recommend getting something that can upload your results. Garmins didn't exist when I started, but I bought one with mapping abilities when that appeared. Expensive, but worth it if and when you get serious about the sport. Later yet, I put on a power meter, also nice to have, but again, expensive and unnecessary, just nice to have.
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Old 10-03-23, 02:38 PM
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What do you want?

What are your objectives?
Fun short rides solo?
Fast group rides?
Fastest Known Time (FKT) somewhere?
Keeping up with motorcycles on the Tail of the Dragon?
How much time do you have?
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Old 10-03-23, 03:41 PM
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I just ride and don't follow any structured training programs.
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Old 10-03-23, 03:52 PM
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Been using Trainerroad for the past 3 seasons. Nothing but good things to say about it, and it has given me solid results.
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Old 10-04-23, 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01

I just read some books, websites and such. Anything by Joe Friel I liked. But I haven't spent money on training. Other than what I need to ride my bike and record my metrics/stats. Quantity of riding with awareness and purpose on your part will get you as good a result as a training site that needs a good chunk of your money every month. IMO
The training sites like TP, TrainerRoad, Wahoo SYSTM etc just make it easier and more convenient to follow an effective, efficient training plan without hours of reading and self-planning. I donít find the cost unreasonable for any of those sites. They are pretty good value compared to most things, which are not even good for your health!

I think I might go back to Wahoo SYSTM this winter as I like their video based interval workouts and strength training routines. I had great results last time I followed their plans.

One thing to note is that most of these training plans require a decent indoor Smart Trainer to get the most out of them. Although the training plans include outdoor riding, most of the interval workouts are designed to be ridden on an indoor trainer with a power meter.
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Old 10-04-23, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
The training sites like TP, TrainerRoad, Wahoo SYSTM etc just make it easier and more convenient to follow an effective, efficient training plan without hours of reading and self-planning. I donít find the cost unreasonable for any of those sites. They are pretty good value compared to most things, which are not even good for your health!

I think I might go back to Wahoo SYSTM this winter as I like their video based interval workouts and strength training routines. I had great results last time I followed their plans.

One thing to note is that most of these training plans require a decent indoor Smart Trainer to get the most out of them. Although the training plans include outdoor riding, most of the interval workouts are designed to be ridden on an indoor trainer with a power meter.
I do intervals just fine on my resistance rollers, using both a power meter and a heart rate monitor. But yes, indoor equipment is pretty much necessary to follow a plan. The rollers are pretty cool because I just throw my road bike on them and ride, no tire wear, no futzing, just like riding outside except that I provide my own hills. Having TP revolutionized my training because I could plan increments in CTL chronic training load. Just understanding the concept of CTL was a big deal for me.
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Old 10-04-23, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by tstop
Hey everyone! I'm Damian, a recent Computer Science grad. I know that I'm not the intended age group for this subforum, but I'm looking for diverse responses from all age demographics. I'm delving into researching my passion, cycling.

Online coaching can be pricey, $200+/mo. I want to figure out how you approach training and improving your cycling strength in this landscape.
I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you'd like to share, please message me directly or comment below. Thanks!
Is this for your use or are you doing market research?

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Old 10-04-23, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
I do intervals just fine on my resistance rollers, using both a power meter and a heart rate monitor. But yes, indoor equipment is pretty much necessary to follow a plan. The rollers are pretty cool because I just throw my road bike on them and ride, no tire wear, no futzing, just like riding outside except that I provide my own hills. Having TP revolutionized my training because I could plan increments in CTL chronic training load. Just understanding the concept of CTL was a big deal for me.
Rollers would limit the kind of intervals you can do. Might be fine for what you are doing, but I know rollers would be impractical for many of the SYSTM interval workouts.
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Old 10-04-23, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Rollers would limit the kind of intervals you can do. Might be fine for what you are doing, but I know rollers would be impractical for many of the SYSTM interval workouts.
What's special about them?
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Old 10-04-23, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
What's special about them?
Some of them have a lot of variation in both cadence and power. I just donít think they would be practical on rollers.
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Old 10-04-23, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Some of them have a lot of variation in both cadence and power. I just donít think they would be practical on rollers.
My 25 y.o. rollers go to 500 watts, Modern ones go higher. I used to do a workout which included 45' of spinning 115-120. Can't do that anymore, limited HR won't allow it, have to settle for 110-115. That's probably the single most useful drill I do. I used to do 50 cadence Z4 on them, too. Plus it's like trying to ride the white line on the road, so keeping road skills through the winter here. People who haven't tried rollers don't realize how much less boring a set of resistance rollers is. My set are cheapo Bike Nashbar, $120 years ago, amortized at $5/year. I suppose not being able to do rides on the web or virtual reality stuff is a drawback, but I'd rather do that on the road with my droogs anyway.
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Old 10-05-23, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
My 25 y.o. rollers go to 500 watts, Modern ones go higher. I used to do a workout which included 45' of spinning 115-120. Can't do that anymore, limited HR won't allow it, have to settle for 110-115. That's probably the single most useful drill I do. I used to do 50 cadence Z4 on them, too. Plus it's like trying to ride the white line on the road, so keeping road skills through the winter here. People who haven't tried rollers don't realize how much less boring a set of resistance rollers is. My set are cheapo Bike Nashbar, $120 years ago, amortized at $5/year. I suppose not being able to do rides on the web or virtual reality stuff is a drawback, but I'd rather do that on the road with my droogs anyway.
I did briefly consider Elite Smart rollers as an option for Zwift, but reviews suggested that the resistance control is a bit flaky. Might be fun on virtual roads though.

I currently use a Wahoo Kickr Bike for indoor riding/training, which is pretty much the gold standard. I use ERG mode for intervals and sim mode for Zwift riding/racing. It can simulate any real life drivetrain setups too which is useful.

Rollers might be an interesting option, but they certainly wouldnít be my primary choice for indoor training with Apps like SYSTM or TrainerRoad.
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Old 10-05-23, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by tstop
Hey everyone! I'm Damian, a recent Computer Science grad.
Stay with your chosen Computer Science major and presumably, profession.

That in itself will dictate your priorities in life and how cycling works in it.

"The Big Picture", then the smaller ones.

At Cervelo, Vroomen and White were engineering majors and didn't really "train" but designed bikes and it became their profession.
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Old 10-05-23, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by gobicycling
maintain our fitness as we approach later years in our life.
I love this attitude. 84 years old and *approaching* later years in life. I'm 30 years younger and worried this is almost it!! Chapeau to you and your wife!

As for training plans, The best training plan is one you follow. Don't fall into the trap of adding every new fad from Bicycling together. It's just not that complicated.

I know it's Old School but there are many books available that will walk you through how to create a plan. At the other end, the New School way: ChatGPT will also put one together for you in a matter of minutes. Spend time with the prompts you feed it and it will get very specific and targeted.

You definitely want to include 'heavy' weight training for your posterior chain and core and plyometrics (box jumps). When I was racing, most of the Cat1-2-3s on the team were squatting 1.8-2.2x their body weight - and build up slowly, because nothing destroys a training plan and motivation like injury and soreness.

Good luck!
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Old 10-05-23, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by duanedr
You definitely want to include 'heavy' weight training for your posterior chain and core and plyometrics (box jumps).
Ah, good old resistance (weight) training. I have that one permanently filed in the "probably should do--don't want to do" folder.

Except for rehabilitation after an injury, I just can't find the motivation to grunt away in a weight room. I'd much rather be on the bike. And the best training plan is one you will actually do.

If I want to increase pedaling strength, I seek out some steep grades to climb. Nothing else works for me like fighting my way up 15% grades in the saddle. Soreness in my quads and glutes tell me that these climbs are working. And those steep workouts make 6% climbs feel like flat roads (well, sort of).

Another strength workout of mine is simply sprinting up rollers in a big gear, in the saddle. That's a nice whole leg/glutes workout. After some time, I can produce as much power in the saddle as out of the saddle.
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Old 10-05-23, 10:54 AM
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Go out to organized rides and ask the folks there what they do(?). And it depends on what category of riding you intend to focus on - weekend warrior, basic fitness, competitive racing. And divide those into subcategories like road biking, MTB, endurance riding, maybe touring.
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Old 10-05-23, 11:37 PM
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Ride your bikes.
Rubber side down.
Consistently and with vigor.
For decades.
With a smile on your face.
Laugh and be happy, otherwise.

The rest is .... gravy ... possibly more than you deserve.
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Old 10-07-23, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
Ah, good old resistance (weight) training. I have that one permanently filed in the "probably should do--don't want to do" folder.

Except for rehabilitation after an injury, I just can't find the motivation to grunt away in a weight room. I'd much rather be on the bike. And the best training plan is one you will actually do.

If I want to increase pedaling strength, I seek out some steep grades to climb. Nothing else works for me like fighting my way up 15% grades in the saddle. Soreness in my quads and glutes tell me that these climbs are working. And those steep workouts make 6% climbs feel like flat roads (well, sort of).

Another strength workout of mine is simply sprinting up rollers in a big gear, in the saddle. That's a nice whole leg/glutes workout. After some time, I can produce as much power in the saddle as out of the saddle.
Also exactly my experience . . .until. '03, so 58 y.o. I ran a wooden boatshop for 40 years, lots of hard manual labor, mostly upper body though. But the high effort stuff was really intermittent. You'd be doing fine work for a couple weeks and all of a sudden have an 8 hour day when you're using the hand plane hard enough that the thing gets hot. The answer was the gym twice a week. Didn't do that, couldn't do the work.

Then at 58, I noticed that I was losing my kick on the bike, so more lower body in the gym. Sure enough, in a couple years I was slaughtering the group on short OOS hill sprints but after enough of that the others stopped competing and I didn't want to just vanish, so I quit doing that but kept on with the strength training. Anyway, the gym made a big difference, like doing a lot of running in summer if you're a skier in winter. The older I got, the bigger deal it became. I'd do an hour of moderate on the bike, then hit the gym all warmed up..

For me, the gym was a hrTSS of 30-40 twice a week, out of 400-600/week in spring and summer in my late 50s, 60s. not a show-stopper. It's actually quite enjoyable to push one's limits in the gym, just like we do on the bike. More endorphins, please. I started with 3X30 of about 8 exercises, right out out Friel's recs, gradually reducing reps down to 3X10-12 over a couple years, not months or weeks. However many the reps, I'd adjust the weights so that the last rep of the last set was barely possible or impossible. I could tell not to even start that rep, never purposely failed in the middle of a rep. The web has some very convincing studies of young competitive cyclists adding strength training. Getting old makes it even more effective.

My motivation was to be more competitive with younger riders in group rides, like 10-15 years younger. If one is competing with oneself, maybe not the same thing. I should mention that I started lifting in my early 20s, helped with rock climbing as well as skiing, but in any case, I learned to do all the big lifts safely and never have been injured in the gym, quite the contrary, prevents injury. The Olympic lifts are really fun, but I've never been in an ordinary gym where they had an Olympic platform to use for that and I wasn't training for that anyway, I trained to ride.
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Old 10-08-23, 01:18 PM
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At 62 years old I bought myself a smart trainer (Wahoo Core) and started using it with both Zwift and Sufferfest (now Wahoo Systm) without using any particular training plan, just what I felt like on that day. There were days I rode hard, some I rode easy, I had a favorite mountain video, and just mixed it up. I got myself into kickass shape by spring, after I'd turned 63. I've been cycling since I was a teen but over the years never achieved more than moderate fitness, and doing this training made me feel like Superman out on the road. People half my age would struggle to keep up. My FTP crept up as I kept using the trainer, and the funny thing was the next fall, after riding outdoors all summer, I did a ride in Zwift and it pushed my FTP up 20 watts from where I left off by doing simulated laps of Central Park. I just made it a game to catch and pass every other rider and was surprised I could do it. When I went to Central Park IRL I was able to do that too, and Harlem Hill felt like a bump in the road while everybody else struggled. I also came in first on two big group rides and I wasn't even really trying. I was just cruising along at my new normal pace. They weren't competitive rides but nobody else was keeping up either.

So you can use a plan if you'd like, but you can also just ride lots on the trainer and do whatever you please. You'll still get into great shape for an amateur. Maybe the pros need more structure but I never felt the need.
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Old 10-09-23, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster
At 62 years old I bought myself a smart trainer (Wahoo Core) and started using it with both Zwift and Sufferfest (now Wahoo Systm) without using any particular training plan, just what I felt like on that day. There were days I rode hard, some I rode easy, I had a favorite mountain video, and just mixed it up. I got myself into kickass shape by spring, after I'd turned 63. I've been cycling since I was a teen but over the years never achieved more than moderate fitness, and doing this training made me feel like Superman out on the road. People half my age would struggle to keep up. My FTP crept up as I kept using the trainer, and the funny thing was the next fall, after riding outdoors all summer, I did a ride in Zwift and it pushed my FTP up 20 watts from where I left off by doing simulated laps of Central Park. I just made it a game to catch and pass every other rider and was surprised I could do it. When I went to Central Park IRL I was able to do that too, and Harlem Hill felt like a bump in the road while everybody else struggled. I also came in first on two big group rides and I wasn't even really trying. I was just cruising along at my new normal pace. They weren't competitive rides but nobody else was keeping up either.

So you can use a plan if you'd like, but you can also just ride lots on the trainer and do whatever you please. You'll still get into great shape for an amateur. Maybe the pros need more structure but I never felt the need.
A training plan just makes the whole process a bit more efficient. Although a fixed plan can be less effective than doing whatever you feel like. I use an adaptive plan when I really want to get into peak shape for a specific event, but I also use your method when I'm not training for anything specific. A good plan does tend to boost my performance over free ranging, but only for the short term.

Most people I ride with use a Smart trainer. The one guy who doesn't has really fallen behind in his relative bike fitness. He's planning to buy a Smart trainer this winter and I expect he will be a lot stronger next spring.
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